NFL Legend Dwight Clark Dies at 61: Cause of Death Revealed

June 5, 2018 Updated: June 5, 2018

Former NFL player Dwight Clark died after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, according to reports on Tuesday. Clark was 61.

“I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark,” his wife, Kelly, tweeted.

Clark played nine years for the San Francisco 49ers before retiring from the NFL in 1987.

In a statement, the 49ers said his death was a “tremendous loss.”

“For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area,” the 49ers said. “Dwight’s personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during his most trying times. The strength, perseverance, and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many.”

It added: “Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease.”

Clark, a two-time Super Bowl champion, led the NFL in receptions in 1982 with 60, for which he was named First-Team All-Pro. “He was also selected to the Pro Bowl in 1982 and 1983. In 1982, Clark was the recipient of the Len Eshmont Award, which is given annually to the 49ers player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, a member of the original 1946 49ers team. The number 87 jersey worn by Clark was retired in 1988,” according to the NFL.

Clark, however, is best known for what is now called “The Catch.” During the NFC Championship in 1982, the 49ers were trailing the Dallas Cowboys. The team moved 83 yards in only a few minutes before the end of the game. Quarterback Joe Montana then threw a pass to the end zone, and Clark caught it with his fingertips, which was considered an insurmountable feat in those days.


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